I didn't do shit tonight. But I did it like a champion.

Bring Limes Bar.jpg

I've got a free pass tonight. My wife is out of town. The boys are busy (thanks Fortnite!). The dog is fed.

I rolled out of the house on a mission: notebook in hand. I planned to Write Great Things. Writing has always been a good outlet for me (and a good inlet too). I've been away from it for a while.

I've been thinking lately about the downside of optimism. Or conversely, the upside of pessimism. Maybe I'd scribble up some kind of positive/negative duality thing. I'm sometimes a little to clever for my own good, and I knew this was probably that. But what the hell, I'll start there and see where it goes.

I headed to The Weary Traveler Freehouse. I've scrawled the better part of four screenplays there, along with endless gibberish for Bring Limes. When it comes to writing, I'm a little superstitious. The Weary has always come through for me: A small table two or three back along the side wall. A Hopalicious please. Notebook. Sharpie pen. Trust the process, as they say. 

And then. And then! Nothing happened. The blank page stayed blank. The insights stayed unsighted. Writing's like that sometimes/most of the time. Kind of how fishing and catching only occasionally overlap. 

So instead, I just looked around. Occasionally I'd tap my pen and furl my brow to create the illusion that I was thinking. But I wasn't thinking. I was just taking things in. There was a loud and awkward breakup happening somewhere behind me. And at the table right in front of me, what I'm pretty sure was a first kiss. They weren't teenyboppers, these two. They were an older couple, a bit out of their element, who spent the first part of the evening looking for conversational common ground. Eventually they found it. After they left, I had one more beer and then I did the same. Smiling like a goof as I stepped out into a light rain.

The notebook went entirely unused. I didn't accomplish what I wanted. But still. I want what I accomplished.



Fish + Words + Other Slippery Things


You can learn a lot from a fish. 

I strongly considered following that line up with "because they spend so much time in schools." One more Dark & Stormy and I might have pulled the trigger.

But for real. Fish. They're like geniuses! Because whatever it is that I need the most on any given day? They seem to understand it better than I do. Sometimes they let me catch them at will, just like that, and hold them up for the world to see. Other times, they'll leave me casting for days on end without even a fin-flash of hope. 

The fact that they let me catch them at all is a huge leap of faith on their part. But not letting me catch them is, by far, the greater gift. Life's greatest lessons so often follow extended periods of desperately flailing about. Of blindly waving sticks over dark water.

When everything is working, the living's easy like George and Weezy. (Jeffersons reference? George Clinton/Lil' Wayne reference? Your choice!)

I spent last week fishing in northwestern Ontario. Everything was working. Despite rain and temps in the 40s, the fish proved to be very generous with their time. We caught one after another. "We figured 'em out," as the saying goes. Times like those feel like the catching is a permanent situation. Like fishing will be this easy always and forever. Now that you've figured 'em out.


Writing is the same way. Sometimes the words rise up from the depths and just jump right into your damn boat. Everything works and the words pile up all around you, into sentences and paragraphs so many you can't even count. You figured 'em out, these words, and there's a sense that they're going to stay figured out, for always and forever. 

The main challenge on those days is deciding which specimens to hold up for the world to see and which to toss back over the side. The implication of the toss-back, of course, is that there are more ideas where those came from. The clear thinking, the concise articulation, the natural rhythm of writing well... you've got all that figured out. Tomorrow will bring another easy boatload. No need to push hard today. Easy come, easy go.

The no-big-deal toss-back is definitely a form of hubris. But on those days where everything is clicking, it's maybe an understandable one. 

Holding your ideas up for the world to see is another level of hubris all together. Look at me! I figured it out! Read it! And weep! I alone was able to catch the uncatchable!

Of course in reality all ideas are catchable. Not only that, all the best ideas have already been caught. Look at any piece of writing and you'll see the telltale hook marks from prior writers, prior people who figured out the same things you did; only long before you and better conveyed.


To be honest, I'm not sure where I'm headed here. I noticed some similarities between fishing and writing. That's how it started. I thought I'd be able to shape those similarities into a finely crafted treatise on the feast/famine dualities of fishing and writing and life.

Clearly I was wrong about that. Upon review of the previous 548 words, I see I've been fishing, but not catching. Typing, but not writing. Time to stop casting for the day. Hopefully they'll be biting better tomorrow.